By R. Scott Moxley, O.C. Weekly
Twelve years ago, Larry Agran, Irvine’s career politician and mayor who’d never built anything, issued bold statements about his ability to build a “world-class” government park at the mothballed Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, and people, especially journalists, believed him.
“Move over, Manhattan,” wrote an excited Christian Science Monitor reporter in April 2003. “Stand aside San Francisco. In Orange County, the final hurdle has been cleared for a ‘county great park’ that will exceed the size of Central Park and Golden Gate Park put together.”
The reporter–who didn’t know the mayor and his political scheming actually would be the final hurdles–went on to echo the mayor’s oral machinations, declaring that “the area is considered America’s leading laboratory of ‘post suburbia’ . . . ”
Agran also provided the money quote, “We are finally moving forward with a plan that will transform the future of Orange County.”
In pure Agranista form, the paper unquestioningly repeated his biggest lie in the title to a chapter in the article: “No cost to citizens.”
Add you own exclamation point!
Those of us who for 12 years closely watched Agran and his Democratic political machine operate dictatorial control over the project didn’t fall for the empty hype. Their operatives received lucrative, no-bid contracts for a public park that didn’t yet exist. They wasted nearly $50 million on a park design plan that was laughably unattainable–a huge, man-made canyon and waterfalls!–the moment it landed on paper. Paranoid of being caught in various scandals, they treated park records with NSA-type secrecy. Agran conducted park spending business through his wife’s private email account. Despite claiming otherwise, they planned to use a special tax scheme to boost park coffers until Gov. Jerry Brown killed such tactics. They ran fake Republican candidates to dilute their opponents’ election strength. After years and years of spending several hundred million dollars without building a single, major promised feature, the Agran finally alliance lost power in 2012.
What happened? Agran and Beth Krom, his robotic sidekick, blame the economy on their wild spending spree that emptied park coffers. Nobody but the pair’s Kool-Aid drinkers ever bought that falsehood.